From the office: Finding the zen of genealogy

By Editor, 13 October 2016 - 2:12pm

As much as hitting a brick wall can be frustrating, Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine editor Sarah Williams suggests that filling in gaps on a family tree can actually be quite relaxing

Sarah Williams is editor of Who Do You Think You Are? MagazineThursday 13 October 2016
Sarah Williams, Editor
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Genealogy zen Getty Images
Undertaking family history research can actually be quite relaxing... but sitting in a tree to do so isn't strictly necessary (Photo: Getty Images)

This morning I was attaching some Norfolk records to my family tree. It's been on my to-do list for some time but I'm so busy nowadays I don't have the time I used to have to devote to my own family history.

It was very satisfying seeing the original parish records of the Wortley family baptisms. Noting where the minister had marked a private baptism on the day of the birth as well as the public one that the register was recording. Clearly there were doubts about whether some of the babies would survive.

We may laugh at some of the peculiar names that celebrities choose to name their children, but our ancestors were not averse to unusual monikers. My 3x great grandfather was called Rumble Wortley and clearly didn't curse his parents for it because he was keen to pass the name on to a son.

Unfortunately his first Rumble died aged four, the second one died aged nine and it was only the third one that made it to adulthood. As these were the only two of his nine children that didn't make it past 18, I can't help feeling that Rumble wasn't a very lucky name.

Anyway, I digress, the reason I was writing this blog post was to say how much simple pleasure can be gained from family history. There's a lot of talk about 'mindfulness' nowadays. It's all about 'being in the moment' and not worrying about the future. I would argue that attaching records to my family tree is just as relaxing as colouring in a picture and it leaves me with a sense of satisfaction and achievement.

It has also helped me to understand better who I am and how I connect in the world. People from all walks of life make up my family tree and I am here because of them.

So I'm on a bit of a mission to encourage more people to try their hand at family history. It's often seen as a project for the retired, but the idea that you need to visit parish churches and record offices to get anywhere is not the case anymore (although record offices still have an important part to play). For a lot of people it's just a case of taking those first steps and understanding what's available online.

I like to think that society would be a better place if we all understood what a mish-mash of people we descend from - and for those who don't fancy mindful origami perhaps a relaxing morning spent attaching records to the Rumbles in your family tree (accompanied by a nice cup of tea) will have a similar effect.

Let's spread the word!


Learn how to grow your tree with the October 2016 issue of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, which features the first part of our new 12-week family history challenge


From the office: When will we see the 2016 series of WDYTYA?
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From the office: Appreciating our rural ancestors
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From the office: When will we see the 2016 series of WDYTYA?
previous blog Article
From the office: Appreciating our rural ancestors
next blog Article
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